Cops & courts: Photographer files lawsuit against chamber

CNJ staff

A Curry County photographer has filed a lawsuit against the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce and its executive director claiming the non-profit organization used his photos for advertising without permission.

In a lawsuit filed Jan. 3 in 9th Judicial District Court, professional photographer D.A. Black claims Chamber Executive Director Ernie Kos used his photographs without permission on two Web sites in January of 2004, and used photo reprints without permission in another publication, the lawsuit states.

Black did give the Chamber permission to use his photos in other instances, the lawsuit states.

Stacey Martin, president of the Chamber, said some of the claims in the lawsuit are false.

“There was a difference in opinion. The Chamber is convinced they’re right, the other party is convinced they’re right. The case is in the hands of our defense council …” Martin said.

The lawsuit seeks undisclosed monetary damages.

• • •

A jury trial will begin Monday for a Clovis man charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the February 2003 slayings of Alex Rodriguez and Wesley Griest in Curry County.

Dominic Murphy, 26, and Joey Gabriel Martinez were charged with shooting Rodriguez and Griest west of Clovis in an effort to collect on a drug debt.

In December of 2003, Martinez pleaded guilty to two counts of accessory to second-degree murder and one count of shooting at a dwelling. He was sentenced to 29 1/2 years in state prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years.

District Attorney Matthew Chandler declined to give specific details on the case because he didn’t want to taint potential jurors before Monday’s jury selection.

But former District Attorney Brett Carter said in December of 2003 that the plea agreement with Martinez was essential to making the case against Murphy, who officials said was the most “principal and involved” defendant in the killings.

On Wednesday, Murphy’s attorney Abigail Aragon of Las Vegas, N.M., attempted to get the case dismissed on the basis prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence to the grand jury. District Judge Joe Parker denied the motion.

The defense attorney claimed prosecutors withheld information from a 14-year-old girl, who told police her 18-year-old cousin admitted to the slayings. But prosecutors said the 14-year-old later told police those claims were fabricated.

The trial is scheduled to last two weeks, but Deputy District Attorney Andrea Reeb said it likely last between five and seven days.

• • •

A longtime officer with the Clovis Police Department will retire on Friday, leaving behind a legacy as the department’s technological guru.

Capt. Leon Morris, who worked at the department for 31 years, designed the department’s computer system, worked on upgrades throughout the years and helped with a new system that would track the general location of a cell phone caller who dialed 911, Police Chief Bill Carey said.

He also served as the department’s public information officer.

“It’s going to take a lot to fill the void that he’s going to leave at the police department,” Carey said. “He’s done an outstanding job. He’s going to be missed here at the police department. He’s been a good friend.”

Sgt. James Schoeffel will take over the duties of public information officer for Morris, who will be honored at an office party on Friday.

Cops and Courts is compiled by CNJ news editor Mike Linn. He can be contacted at 763-6991 or: